MAGNOLIA page 2 with visitor comments.
A collusion of coincidence, chance, human action, past history and divine intervention. It is a story about putting things right again.A very interesting film.

-Review by David Bruce

This page was last updated on March 27, 2000
Bulletin Board:

Subject: Magnolia
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2001
From: Neil Powell

There's also a reference to Exodus 8:2 at the very beginning of the movie. When the narrator is telling the story of the boy who committed suicide there is a rope leaning against the side of the roof that is wound up in the shape of an 8 2. Very subtle. Excellent movie. My wife and I still discuss it even though we saw it so long ago.
-Neil Powell

Subject: A Redemption Story Magnolia
Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2001
From: Rick Miller Fairborn, Ohio

A couple of months ago my wife and I saw Magnolia on video. We both found the movie to be fascinating and deep. I think Magnolia is one of the best movies made in years (along with The Green Mile). We discussed it for a couple of days, and we still discuss it whenever it's mentioned. Magnolia is the kind of redemption story that Christian filmmakers should be producing.

I found out about your web site this past Friday. There is a small group from our church which meets monthly to discuss movies. I have been requesting that we discuss Magnolia, but so far my wife and I are the only ones of our group who have seen the movie. The leader of that group told me about this site. I just had to check out what you said about Magnolia. Your review and the comments of others were excellent and thought provoking. Keep up the good work of keeping believers informed about our culture.

I wanted to know more about the director. Are there any interviews where he discusses this movie, or his worldview?

Also, what are your thoughts on the little boy? Even though he uses strong language in his rap, I was wondering if he is supposed to be an angel? It's been awhile since I've seen the movie so I can't remember all the details, but it seems that this boy is important to the movie. He tells the cop who to look for - though in rap. Then he disappears. He takes the cop's gun. Then he disappears from the scene. He basically saves Linda's life when she overdoses. If these facts are wrong, forgive me, I'm operating on a faulty memory here.

Anyway, I'd love to see some discussion on Paul Thomas Anderson and on this boy who appears at important times in the movie - and we know "nothing happens by chance".
Rick Miller Fairborn, Ohio

Subject: Magnolia
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001
From: MB, San Jose, Ca.

I've seen the movie twice and there is still more to get from it. I suppose everyone will see it through the filters of their own belief system, but it is difficult for me to understand how anyone could walk out five or fifteen minutes after the start and then condemn it as vigorously as I have seen many people (read Christian fundamentalists) do. Are they not aware that their Lord and Savior, Jesus, spent hours praying in Gethsemane while his loving "followers" slept? Why could these modern day "followers" not spend three hours watching the story develop? Seeing the transformation and redemption, and love, at the end? Some people waste enormous amounts of energy waiting, with their heads in the sand, for the next world when the only world available to them, right now, is this one, here and now.
MB, San Jose, Ca.

Response: You are so right. -David

Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2000
From: KT from Boulder, CO

i do not have a copy of the old testement of the bible, can you please post exodus 8:2 please. Thank you. I chose to analyis Magnolia for my final "film liturature" project, (after discovering that Pulp Fiction and The Usual Suspects were already taken). Well, i turns out that Magnolia is a wonderful film to review had some excellent insight, that will be VERY useful in helping me disect this film.
Thanks again---KT from Boulder, CO

Response: Exodus 8:2 "If you refuse, then listen carefully to this: I will send vast hordes of frogs across your entire land from one border to the other."

Subject: rain of frogs
Date: Fri, 01 Sep 2000
From: robert morris

hi-- fascinating review. thanks for it. in interviews anderson said there were modern documented rains of frogs. but he wasn't more forthcoming. do you happen to know where and when? i can't find any precise references in searches. many thanks for any advice.
best, bob morris

Response: There have been scores, if not hundreds, of cases sited of frog rains. There have also been fish rains. Few take place in the US. Great Britain, Ireland and India are three of the several areas that have such things on a reoccurring basis.

Subject: Magnolia: single sided
Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000
From: Birgit-Emma

You wrote: "Study after study reveals that children do best in two parent families." What about Claudia? e.

Response: But not all, for sure. In Claudia's case her dad violated her and she became effectivly fatherless.

Date: 5 Mar 2000
From: Gazzah

I just saw Magnolia yesterday and it really seemed to have a message for me. I'm an addict in a recovery program. The theme of lonely people struggling to deal with regrets and past actions while finding it difficult to relate to those close to them struck me in a very personal way, because it mirrors my own situation. The timing couldn't have been better, because I had just begun another relapse, and needed waking up. The lyrics of the song "it ain't gonna stop 'till you wise up" were quite poignant.

I'm still trying to find some spiritual dimension to life, and while not a Christian, I couldn't help feeling that some higher power got me into the movie theater that day.

Please don't post my e-mail address. Just sign me off as Gazza.
Response: God has his hand on your life. Thank you for getting into recovery. May prayer ifor you is that you will soon experience the joy of God. He loves you so very much. -David.

Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000

From: Thomas i saw magnolia a couple of weeks ago, and i didn't know what to think when i walked out. i couldn't catch the writers point. later, after pondering over the film, i took the importance of everyday situtations. single events in our lives can be so powerful, and important in our lives. often times though, we overlook them. a molesting can impact a girl, and change her life so much, but the rest of the world will not know its impact. to show the impact, he includes the plague of frogs. this single event impacted the world. it had significance. but in the scope of things, a molesting. or neglect from a father are just as significant. it really impacted me to look deeper into things that happens. i have noticed some magnolia types of things in my life that i would have overlooked had i not seen the movie. it had some rough scenes, but overall, it was a solid movie.

Subject: Exodus 8:2
Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2000
From: Debby

Thanks, DeNon! I read through the entire review and everyone's comments until I got to yours, looking to see if anyone else had noticed the placard held up by one studio audience member just before he was escorted out of the "What Do Kids Know" set. As we see "John 3:16" on cards held up at sporting events, this one read "Exodus 8:2". I made a mental note to check out the verse after the movie, but it was early on and I forgot. But about ten minutes into the drive home while discussing the flick with my husband, I realized that Exodus 8:2 should be right in the middle of the Egyptian plagues sent by God through Moses. I whipped out my Bible and sure enough! Very subtle foreshadowing!


Fri, 28 Jan 2000)
From: Ryan

I found Magnolia to be a thought-provoking, creative film. Because of its complexity, I am still processing what I viewed three weeks after the fact.

The theme seemed to be embedded in a line that a few of the characters recite during the film: "you can run from the past, but it will eventually find you" (or something like that). The person closest to natural death in the movie (the old man Partridge), expounds on this idea during his monologue about regret: "don't let anyone tell you there is no such thing as regret. There is!" He does some serious soul-searching and realizes how hollow and depraved a life he led. During that monologue, we get a shot of each of the characters involved in their own struggles with sin, struggles that will ultimately lead to death (cf. the wages of sin is death; you will reap what you sow). This death is literal for two of the characters and figurative for the others. Regardless of the final outcome, I think the idea of choices and consequences is central to the film.

The "singing scene" (which I thought was a little forced, but a very creative attempt at using the score as a story-telling device) reinforced this idea. I think one of the lyrics was "now I'm paying for what I wanted" (you get the idea). Each one of the characters, according to the song, had a chance to "wise up" and to "give up" the idea that they can work things out themselves: they needed forgiveness, either as the forgiver or the forgiven: they needed someone to engage them on a personal level.

In addition, this emphasis on consequences was continued with the idea that fathers have great power in the lives of their children. In fact, the William Macy character is reciting Scripture while vomiting into the toilet: the Scripture that talks about children inheriting the sins of their fathers (cited in the review on this page). Think about the characters and their relationship with their fathers. Definitely something working there.

Now, the frogs were a bit strange and once again, in my mind, a bit too blatant. That aside, I noticed that the Scripture reference Exodus 8:2 was in the movie at least twice (once in the game show audience and once on a bus stop stand). Given the theme of consequences, I think the frogs represent judgment (judging those with a hardened heart: the two old men die that night) and divine intervention (recall the opening and ending scene that recounts three events that occur not because of "chance" but "something else"). So, in a sense, I think the frogs are supposed to remind us that things happen for a reason -- whether a cop "happens" upon a drug addict at just the right time or Tom Cruise receives the phone call about his father when he is most sensitive to the isse (due to the interview). Does that really work? I don't now -- I was looking for a little more connection at the end of the movie, but I like the fact that everything wasn't simply "peachy" in the end, that there was still reconciliation needed and healing necessary (the last shot is of the drug addicted girl smiling with hope because someone chooses to love her -- the beginning of healing).

So the primary problem put forth in the film is: how do we break the chain of suffering from the past, whether it's drugs, sex, hate, greed, unfaithfulness, or regret? The answer seems to be: admit it and seek forgiveness. For the two heros (the Christian cop and the compassionate nurse), the answer is also seeking to do the right thing (remember the cop says that the hardest part is knowing when to forgive -- he lets the thieiving Macy go at the end) and caring about other people. Both these answers point to reaching out in love and forgiveness.

All that said, I found it challenging, thoughtful, and creative. Despite the imperfections, I felt it had some important things to say and said them with great effectiveness.

Subject: Earth-shakingly incredible
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000
From: Nick Kleszczewski

This has got to be one of the most detailed, lovingly constructed, profoundly spiritual films in a long, long, while. For once, the length and the epic-but-intimate-storytelling _works_. I haven't been able to think about much else since I caught it, then-reluctantly, two weeks ago. However, have you thought about the three stories that were told in the beginning? There's a meaning here, and it hasn't hit me yet. That's the mark of greatness--any film that gets one to actually probe its depths and make deep interpretations. It's wonderfully deep and epic, but it goes down easy.

Nick Kleszczewski
Fairfield, CT

Subject: A moving film
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000
From: Daniel

Jonah, this film is far from being simple-minded. It is one of the most wrenching soul-searching films out there today. A great job by a young and talented filmmaker. Bring us more of this type of fare. The spirit and typecast of the policeman was particularly welcomed. He had a sensitive heart and was well depicted in the story. I loved the film and feel like it once again illustrated so well, that a life out of touch with him/herself a nd God is a desperate way to exist. .. Daniel

Date: Sun, 16 Jan 2000
From: Jonah

UGH! How could you think it was a GOOD FILM?

The story was simpleminded and lame. As one reviewer put it, Anderson's thoughts seem to be on the level of a college dorm room, not a worldly person.

Please do me a favor -- rent HANNAH AND HER SISTERS and compare its subtley to the stupidity of Anderson.
Jonah Falcon
My response: Oh well, I still found it profound.

Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2000
From: Rob

David, I just saw Magnolia last night, and I had a deeply moving spiritual experience. I don't have any problems with finding the divine in the occasional Hollywood film either. The story was so moving, so urgent, an epic of the human drama. Our need for acceptance, salvation, redemption, and ultimately, our falls from grace and rebellion from righteousness.

Magnolia was the best film I've seen this year. Magnificent!


Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2000 16:46:09 -0600
From: Don

I saw Magnolia last night and was knocked off my feet. One thing that struck me was the character of the Christian cop; when he's introduced I sorta winced knowing that most blatently Christian characters in movies are usually at best uptight charactures or worse maniacal zealots. This isn't the case at all though and although the character has human flaws he does indeed turn out to be one of the most well-adjusted people in the whole film and indeed with the character of the male nurse one of the most selfless. A gutsy writing move by Paul Thomas Anderson. This is just one point about the movie's greatness . . . A beautiful, sprawling epic about real and contemporary Americans, with a biblical plague thrown in to boot.
My response: I knocked my socks off, too.

Date: Fri, 07 Jan 2000
From: DeNon

Just saw the film today. As long and sprawling as it is, it is also intricate, thoughtful and powerfully moving. Paul Anderson may be the best American filmmaker of his generation. Not to spoil the film, but why did you make no mention of the "plague" that falls upon the San Fernando Valley? Not only do all of the characters we encounter need to be "let go" (Exodus 8:2 (!?!)) of their past (and regret over it), but God Himself wills it. A truly tremendous film.


Magnolia  © 1999 New Line Cinema. All Rights Reserved.